Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hippopotamic Land Mass and a Grave Instance of Language Abuse

I took this picture at the St. Louis Zoo in August. There is no particular reason I am posting it today. It's 5:13 and I find myself between things to do: why not post a picture of a hippo trying to hide behind a wooden column? Why not indeed.

In verifying the spelling of "hippopotamic" I discovered that the word "hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia" allegedly exists. I say allegedly because it seems like a pretty stupid word to me. "Hippopotamus" means "water horse" and has no place, etymologically-speaking, in a word about words. Furthermore, the Internet tells me that the Greek and Latin components of this word are used incorrectly. I conclude that though "hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia" is allegedly defined as "the fear of long words," what it really means, if actually employed, in any context, is: "My use of this word suggests that I am a show-off with a third-rate sense of irony." Beware!

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